I finally gave in to my urge to see Pixar’s latest film – WALL·E. Having already said that Pixar seldom puts a foot wrong when it comes to film I was still a bit worried that their latest effort would not match up to all the critical hype. I am happy to report i was wrong. I will not fall into the trap of saying it is one of the best movies of the year as the year is only half done but I can safely say it is one of the best animated films I have seen in the last decade and I see a lot of films.
I am not going to spoil the fun by giving the whole plot away but I should at least give a quick summary in ( oh yay…haven’t done this in a while) point form.
Humans have left the earth after rampant consumerism has left it as a huge garbage heap.
WALL·E is a lonely little trash compactor robot left behind that someone forgot to turn off.
He spends his days compacting trash and his nights watching a tape of Hello Dolly with a cockroach for a friend.
He has also developed a personality somehow and collects a vast array of trinkets that keep him amused including a small plant that has emerged from the garbage.
A robot probe called EVE arrives from the human space outpost looking for signs of life.
WALL·E falls in love with EVE.
It is basically that simple and yet so much more complex. I will ignore the space trip they take and their interaction with humans who have become fat and lazy and unable to walk as they depend on computers for everything. That message is important and key to the plot but ultimately this is a love story and a truly effective one at that. Amazingly, Pixar carries the story elegantly and perfectly with hardly any dialogue and with only WALL·E’s binocular eyes to convey emotion. How they did this is anyone’s guess but i was pulled in and completely forgot I was watching an animated film. I also failed to notice there was no dialogue other than beeps for the first 30 minutes. What I experienced was the sort of magic Chaplain used in the silent era..where a simple movement could convey a universe of meaning.
Pixar has set a new benchmark for animation. Frankly, the early scenes on earth were so realistically rendered ( imperfections and all) that i was convinced I was watching either the best stop motion I had ever seen or an actual robot. Even more cleverly the humans are rendered much less realistically making the world of the machines more real than our own. It takes a special touch to make me cry when two robots hold hands.
In one of the early dialogue free scenes we see WALL·E bringing home some of the special items he has collected and carefully putting them away using his filing system. He pulls out a ubiquitous spork – that awful invention of the modern age – and looks at his shelf that contains a cup of forks and a cup of spoons. His eyes move between the two puzzled and eventually he places the item between the two cups. That sort of humour shows what Pixar is all about and what makes them rise high above most other companies making films. It is all in the details and details are what Pixar understands only too well.
This is most definitely not a kids movie ( though they may well enjoy it) it is , quite simply, a great movie. Funny that it takes a little lonely robot with a huge heart to help us understand what it truly means to be human.
P.S. Did I mention that when WALL*E boots up he plays a Mac startup chime? Now that is cool.